10 Ways to Show Your Pastor They Are Loved

Becky Harling

Published Aug 28, 2023
10 Ways to Show Your Pastor They Are Loved

These are some of the most challenging days for pastors. After the recent Covid pandemic, we saw thousands leave the church due to restrictions. The only problem? Many never came back. On top of that, we have seen huge seismic shifts in both Christianity and culture. Christian leaders are disoriented as all the norms of church life are changing. We are surrounded on every side by commercialism, individualism, secularization, and polarization, leaving many churches in crisis. Pastors, in particular, are under extraordinary pressure. The never-ending challenge to grow their churches, keep constituents happy, and prepare life-changing messages weekly is leaving many in a state of burnout. In the midst of this swirling vortex, criticism is frequent. In addition, many Pastors are not paid well and have to consider moonlighting to make ends meet and provide for their families. All of this is exhausting and leaves many pastors discouraged and considering quitting. According to research conducted in 2022, approximately 40% of pastors are thinking about quitting.

As the wife of a pastor for 35-plus years, I know the challenges well. While my husband and I were not in the pastorate during the pandemic, the challenges of changing culture, shifting theology, and never-ending pressure to make services more attractive left us completely exhausted. 

Your pastor is facing all of these challenges as well. The question becomes, how can we help pastors remain faithful to their call and resilient in the face of constant challenges? How can we show our pastors that we love them?

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Praying hands, how we can pray for our muslim neighbors during Ramadan

1. Pray

One of the greatest ways you can encourage your pastor is through prayer. Pray not only for them but for their spouses and their children. One of the loneliest people in the church is often the spouse of the Pastor. Often, she feels isolated and like she has no one to process the pressures of ministry life. Pastor’s kids also face tremendous pressure, and many walk away from their faith later in life. As a parishioner, pray for your pastor, his spouse, and his kids regularly.

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2. Affirm

Criticism abounds within the context of the local church. From the worship to the sermon to the programming, people have opinions, and they usually are quite free to make those opinions known, often negatively. One of the greatest ways to encourage your pastor is to be liberal with affirmations. Tell him when the sermon is meaningful to you personally. Let them know they are doing a good job and that you appreciate all the time they spend in preparation for each Sunday. Let them know that they are doing a good job shepherding people. In addition, choose several specific character traits and tell them how much you appreciate those traits. For example, maybe they are humorous in their sermons. Or perhaps they are extremely tender with those who are hurting. Notice those traits and affirm them.

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Woman writing thank you notes

3. Send a Note of Thanks

Every now and then buy a card. Send a handwritten note telling your Pastor that you are thankful for them. I remember seasons of discouragement when a handwritten card would come to the house from someone in our congregation telling us they felt thankful for us. It lifted our spirits and energized us for the next several weeks.

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Opening a gift

4. Give a Gift Card or Gym Membership

There’s nothing quite like receiving a gift card from one of your parishioners who simply wants to bless you. It can be a gift card to a favorite restaurant or a gift card to a sports store. One unique idea is to purchase a yearlong gym membership for your pastor. Many pastors can’t afford a gym membership yet, they long for one to have a place to go to release energy and deal with stress. Perhaps they like playing tennis or pickleball, or they simply want to work out. That could be a tremendous blessing for some pastors. Now, a word of caution here, don’t tell them, “You need to be working out!” No one wants to hear that. Simply ask, “Would it bless you to have a gym membership?” Or maybe you could purchase 18 holes of golf for them. Think outside the box. Just understand, many pastors cannot afford to buy a gym membership or a club membership where they can play golf.

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5. Volunteer to Serve

5. Volunteer to Serve

Every pastor I know is looking for volunteers, those who are willing to serve. So, step up and offer to serve where needed. Most churches need volunteers for the nursery or greeting or parking attendants. Meet with a staff member and ask how you might be able to serve. 

My in-laws, who have now gone home to be with the Lord, went to the church every Monday to help count the offering until my father-in-law was 90. Now, he had a brilliant mind and so was able to bless his church by helping to sort and count the offering. Maybe that’s not your thing. That’s fine but there are other ways you can serve. Volunteer. Even if you are retired. Retirement is actually a wonderful season to give back to the church and to continue using your gifts.

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Neighbors talking, Evangelicals are more likely to trust their neighbors

6. End Gossip and Speak Honorably

Nothing discourages a pastor quite like gossip! Make it your goal to always speak honorably about your pastor to others. Even if you disagree don’t get caught up in the cesspool of gossip. The Apostle Paul was quite firm on this issue. He wrote that we are to warn a divisive person once and then one more time but after that, we are to have nothing to do with them (Titus 3:10). Nothing is as divisive as gossip. When you hear the gossip start. Shut it down. Be bold. Say something positive and encourage your friends to speak honorably about the pastoral staff.

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7. Pay Them Adequately

7. Pay Them Adequately

Often churches pay the least amount possible. Your pastor is worth more! Most churches don’t have extra finances but by all means pay an adequate salary, cover health insurance (or at least cover part of their insurance), and contribute to their retirement plan. It is so discouraging for Pastors when congregants are well off and yet, they continue to struggle. I remember seasons in our lives when we were struggling so much financially that we didn’t know if we would make it. That’s an added pressure amidst an already stressful job. Be an advocate for your pastor to be paid well enough to live in your area.

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8. Extend Grace

This is especially important. Your pastor is not perfect. Not every sermon is going to be a home run. You will not agree with every decision nor will you like every piece of worship music chosen. But here’s the thing, church is to be a place of grace. Jesus came to offer us grace. 

If there is a moral failure, by all means, deal with it and exercise church discipline but always with reconciliation in mind. Even if your pastor cannot return to ministry because the nature of the failure disqualifies him, seek to help restore him to spiritual health. There are outside organizations and consultants to help navigate these situations.

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Husband holding wife's hand

9. Encourage Their Spouse

It has been said that Pastor’s wives are some of the loneliest people on the planet often having no one in which to confide. I don’t know that this is true for spouses of women who are pastors but certainly for “pastor’s wives.” Be an encourager. Don’t expect to get a “two for one” price. In other words, if you’re expecting your Pastor’s wife to be on staff, pay her. In today’s economic crisis, many Pastor’s wives need to have their own careers and they need to earn money. Let your Pastor’s wife know you appreciate her but don’t have huge expectations for her.

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10. Give and Encourage Sabbaticals

This is one of the most important ways to show your pastor that you love them. Offer regular sabbaticals where they can rest, be refreshed, and renewed to continue on in ministry. Many churches offer their pastor a sabbatical every three years. This is a great policy and allows your pastor to experience renewal. During a sabbatical, your pastor might want to go to a retreat center to receive some spiritual direction, or he might want some personal counseling. If we want our pastors to be resilient, we must provide opportunities for them to be refreshed and revived. Offering and expecting them to take a sabbatical is a great provision for longevity in the life of a pastor.

Pastors are under tremendous pressure in today’s fast-paced culture. If you want your Pastor to not only survive but thrive, they need to know that you love them, that you are praying for them, and that you are for them. Be practical in how you show your love, pray, affirm, send a note of thanks, give a gift card, volunteer and serve with a joyful spirit, end gossip, pay them adequately, extend grace, encourage their spouse, and offer sabbaticals. Imagine the difference it would make in your pastor’s life if everyone in your congregation committed to showing love in these ten ways! We would have far more resilient and joyful pastors in our pulpits.

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headshot of author Becky HarlingAuthentic. Passionate. Funny and Biblical all describe Becky Harling. A best-selling author, Becky is a popular speaker at conferences, retreats, and other events. She is the author of 11 books, including Our Father, Psalms for the Anxious Heart, How to Listen so Your Kids Will Talkand The Extraordinary Power of Praise.Our Father Becky Harling book bible study Becky is a certified coach with the John Maxwell Team and a seasoned Bible teacher. You can connect with Becky at www.beckyharling.com, www.harlingleadership.com, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/beckyharlingministries, Twitter, @beckyharling, or on Instagram at Becky Harling

Originally published Friday, 01 September 2023.